I remember singing a choral piece with these words: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Today, hearts are troubled and sad, and fear is real. On top of that, people are trying to adjust to staying at home.
Let’s focus on some positives. Whether you’re single, a couple, or a family with kids, what changes can you make at home to add some joy right now? Perhaps you can add some NEW daily and weekly routines. Let me know if some ideas work for you.
- Arise: Mornings do not have to be chaotic, even when you are all at home. Just have your kids do their ABCDs. A –arise, B- make bed, C-comb hair/wash face, D-get dressed, E-eat breakfast, and/or F- feed the animals. (If your youngest can’t remember, make a little chart with pictures on cards.)
- Chores: Why not get everyone to pitch in with chores? Do chores for a half hour after breakfast and rotate weekly or monthly. You might have a Kitchen Helper who helps prepare food (for all meals), wipes or puts away dishes, and sets the table. The Living/Dining Room Cleaner might put away clutter and vacuum. You might think of more helpers, like a Laundry Helper, or a Bathroom Cleaner, who wipes the counters. Life will run smoothly with everyone pitching in.
- Essential Oils: Smells are wonderful and will lift everyone’s spirits. Peppermint is great when you are working or studying.
- Meal Planning: One of the best ways to plan meals is to assign a certain meal to nearly every day. Every Monday is chicken (crock pot), Tuesdays are Mexican food, Wednesdays are fish. You get the idea. And definitely choose a pizza night. Now that we have to stay at home, make it from scratch. Make a crust with yeast and then get the whole family in the kitchen to chop and grate…and create.
- Mug: Have each person choose a favorite mug and glass. Have them wash their own at the end of the day.
- Tea: Set a day for a 3.30 afternoon tea.
- Lunch: On Sundays, practice affirmations. This is when everyone says something nice, positive and kind about each other.
- Sing: Sing your table blessing.
- Chopsticks: Every Wednesday use chopsticks for dinner.
- Dinner: Set your dining or kitchen table near a window. Eat together as a family with several courses. Try this: Salad first –when the kids are hungry, then a second or third course, and end the British way with cheese and fruit for desert.
- Conversation: At dinner, practice the art of conversation. Play “Rose, rose, thorn, bud.” (Rose= good things, thorn = not great, bud = something to look forward to or a new interest.) Each person gets a turn saying his/her rose, rose, thorn, bud.
- Sing: Following your evening dinner/supper, have everyone help clean up. While together, sing. Sing every song you know! When the whole kitchen is cleaned, food put away, and the kitchen officially “closed,” then stop singing and turn off the kitchen lights.
- Firsts: Now is the time to look for “firsts” even if only in your backyard: the first crocus, the first robin, the first bud or leaf, the first butterfly. Soak up the wonder of it all!
- Craft Day: Plan something that requires virtually no thinking, like making origami cranes. Hang them with fishing line threaded through them—from ceiling to floor. Or if they are large, write a note on the wings, put it in an envelope and send to a friend.
- Cards: Write and send cards to people who need cards during this pandemic.
- Gardening: Now is the time to plant vegetables…so you won’t have to go to the store quite as much.
- Walk: If you are allowed to go outside, this is a great time for the Spring Penny Walk. For elementary-aged kids, take a walk in your neighborhood. When you arrive at an intersection, have someone flip a coin. Heads means go to the right and tails to the left. Depending on your neighborhood, it might take a while to get home.
- Game Night: Do some hand drumming together with drums or anything drum-like. Someone begins with a rhythm pattern. Say and play the rhythm to “strawberry shortcake” over and over. Everyone else adds in other “drums” and percussion instruments to make a piece. Or do some drama improvisation exercises, play cards or board games….
- Half: Celebrate half-birthdays, which means six months past a real birthday. For the birthday person, the breakfast table is set with half a paper plate, half a napkin, half a paper cup, half a muffin, a half dollar and a couple of gifts. Siblings will take this ad infinitum.
- Dear Daddy or Mama Book: Have your kids write in their Dear Daddy or Dear Mama book—particularly for a parent who is away quite a bit. From the time kids can write a few words, have them ask a question or ask for advice. On Thursday evenings, have the dad or mom write back in easy to read handwriting. On Friday at breakfast the books will be there. Kids really look forward to reading the responses.
- Family Quotes: Think of all the phrases your parents and grandparents “always said.” Examples: Say your prayers and eat your vegetables. Have an attitude of gratitude. It’s not what you say but how you say it. Make a list!
- Electronic-free: Could everyone agree on an electronic-free zone for a couple of hours each day? What about from 6pm-8pm?
- Evening in History: One thing folks used to do (and really not that long ago) was to gather after dinner on a porch or in a living room with coffee/tea and dessert. Each person would contribute something to the conversation like a poem, story, or song.
- NEW bedtime routine: Have kids get into their night-time clothes (report back to the parent), then brush teeth and wash face (and report back to the parent). Then read a book together with parents and kids taking turns. On Sundays, while reading at night, perhaps the mom will give foot rubs to the rest of the family with yummy smelling lotion.
- Friday Nights: Every Friday night could be campout night in the living room with sleeping bags!
- Name your room: Not only name your bedroom, but make up names for other rooms in your house like sunroom or library. Then make up a name for your house.
Of course, when forced to stay at home during this coronavirus time, we can all practice what we often forget to say: thank you, I love you, and even, Would you be willing to ____? And it’s always good to add a bit of humor.
When my daughter was five years old, I spent time explaining the origins of April Fools’ Day and the tricks people play on each other. Days later on April 1, she played a trick on my husband. She exclaimed, “Look! There’s a hole in your shirt!” My husband looked at his shirt. My daughter then burst out with “Christmas Eve!” She meant to say April Fools’.
Take care, everyone.